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Drum Center of Portsmouth Blog

  • Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch Drum Set Review

    The new Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch configuration offers a slightly different flavor of Performer that we think you’ll love!
  • How Drummers Can Prepare For Touring

    There is nothing more eye-opening for a musician than embarking on that first tour. But the flip side of this is that preparing for a tour can be daunting as well. It might only be two weeks hitting regional college bars, but there are many preparations you’ll need to make. Proper preparation ensures the tour goes as smoothly as possible.

    It goes without saying that a band just starting off will have a very different experience than a band on a major label. There will be differences in terms of what you will have to handle personally instead of management and the label. Regardless of who does the job, however, there are a few things every drummer should have.

    From equipment needs and preparations, to legal issues and personal needs, here’s everything you need to prepare before going on tour.

    Equipment Checklist

    Obviously, you’ll need plenty of drumsticks and spare heads. However, it is the other equipment that drummers often forget about.

    One of the main things you’ll want is protection for your equipment. Hard cases for your drums, preferably ones with wheels, work best. Sure, it costs more money, but it will protect your equipment better than soft cases will. Your drums can take some damage from all the loading and unloading, so you want to keep your equipment intact and ding-free.

    Other materials you’ll want to consider are good for replacements or back-up. These can include:

    • Double bass pedal
    • Replacement clutch for your hi-hat stand.
    • Tape for your drumsticks
    • Strings to hold your snare in place
    • An extra set of in-ear monitors

    The main thing is to try and balance your load. You want a replacement for everything you use one stage while also adding as little extra weight as possible. This will require you to make an educated guess about the condition and longevity of your equipment.

    Legal Preparation

    Most bands will have a manager whose job it is to deal with the legal side of touring. However, there are some areas you may want to double-check on your own.

    Contracts: The first thing is to make sure you have confirmation for the gigs. You’ll want to make sure you’ve signed all contracts. In addition, you should receive a minimum of 50% of the deposit before the band goes on stage. This way you are at least assured of getting paid.

    Cancellation Agreement: It also helps to know what will happen if there is a forced cancelation of the show. At least one band member should be in contact with a person at the venue. This ensures you receive the payment you are supposed to. Unfortunately, you can never be too careful in the music industry.

    Travel Paperwork: The other area that you should make sure you are prepared for involves the route you will be traveling and any border crossing you may have to make. Having the incorrect paperwork can scupper a tour before it begins.

    Tech and Hospitality Riders: Other areas you might not think about looking into involve making sure the venues have a tech rider for your band. A tech rider will know what equipment you may need. They can apprise you of what they have on hand.

    You might also look into if the venue has a hospitality rider. Smart bands use these riders to make sure the venue is taking your well-being seriously. Like Van Halen infamously requesting no brown M&M’s backstage, it was a test to see if the promoters actually paid attention to details.

    Merch and Money: Also check if the venue plans to take a portion of the profits from any merchandise you sell. It is becoming standard for venues to now charge between 10-20% of any profit made by band selling merchandise.

    Likeness Rights: Lastly, it is always important to find out if the promoter intends to keep likeness rights and whether they can record and profit off the performance. If a venue or promoter insist on keeping all the rights, then there is usually very little recourse for a band. It is best to find out about this sort of agreement before you leave for the road.

    Personal Planning

    This deals with all the other areas related to touring. They don’t so much affect the band as much as they can affect your time and experience.

    Earplugs: The tour bus or van can be truly loud at times. As such, you want to remember to bring a dozen or so pairs of earplugs. This way, you can keep your hearing protected for years to come. In addition, earplugs are a great way to get a little peace and quiet while on tour.

    Minimal Packing: The main thing to make sure of before you leave on tour is that you aren’t overpacked. The last thing you want is to be cramped more than necessary when trying to sleep.

    Charging Devices and Cell Service: It is also important to make sure that you have plenty of charging tools for all of the band members’ smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Also, if you are touring abroad, make sure to contact your cell provider. Your cell service might not be available when you enter a new country.

    Tools: It also will come in handy to keep a spare set of tools on hand in case of an emergency. If you’re on a tour van, make sure to have tools for roadside maintenance.

    Stashed Cash: It is also important to always carry some cash to take care of unexpected events. You want to keep this cash stashed away for emergency funds.

    The Longer the Tour, The More You Should Prepare

    Going on a tour can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in a band, but at other times, it can be a bit tedious. However, with ample preparation, you will be ready for a successful tour.

  • What You Need to Know About Being a Session Drummer

    There are several ways to earn a living as a drummer. Only one position gives you the ability to play something different every day with a variety of great musicians: the session drummer.

    Not all musicians are cut out to be session musicians. It requires dedication and constant hard work. It is a job where you put your ego aside. You probably won’t get a chance to play the amazing solo you have worked on for years.

    Being a session musician may have you playing in a band setting. However, it is a far cry from being in a touring band. Touring bands rehearse and perform with the same people playing the same songs. Session drummers get to play with different instrumentalists on a daily basis. They can play music in any style or genre, and this can vary from day to day. These are just some of the reasons that draw people to becoming session drummers.

    Session drummers must be highly skilled with their instruments. In addition, there are many different skills and fields areas of knowledge that successful studio musicians need to have to stand out.

    Think this might be for you? Here are some of the most useful things to know when embarking on a career as a session musician.

    Know Your Instrument and Many Different Styles

    Just because you can play the Rhythm Method from memory doesn’t mean you will get jobs as a session musician. Raw talent only can get you so far. The best session drummers are creative and flexible in what they play. They know that drums work different ways in different styles of music. They know that their ability to adapt will help them get a gig.

    It will pay you back in spades to learn all the different styles of drumming. In doing so, you want to invest in equipment that can help you attain certain sounds. The more styles you can create at a recording session, the more jobs you will most likely get. If producers start to feel that you only can play one style and one sound, they may look elsewhere.

    Get in Tune

    You should know how to tune your instrument. This might seem basic, but it’s an overlooked skill. It’s invaluable to tune quickly in certain studio settings. Many modern studies can’t afford to have a drum technician present. As such, you want to be able to tune your own instrument, so you won’t need a technician.

    Learn which genres of music require which tunings. You don’t have to know every style. However, it is important to know multiple styles and tunings that play to your strengths.

    Match Your Skills with the Genre and Medium

    Different media require different skills. Whether you want to drum for TV tunes or a band, you’ll need to know the expectations for the medium and the genre.

    Some session drummers set their sights on jingles, film, and television scores. To get to this level, you have to make sure their sight-reading abilities are excellent. This is because the majority of these types of sessions require you to play a tune for the first time on the spot.

    If you are working on a session for song or album, then you will need to polish off your ability to transcribe lead sheets. That way, you can follow along with the band. Sometimes you will have the chance to practice your parts before recording. But sometimes, you won’t.

    Always prepare for both scenarios. If given a chance to practice, make sure to take advantage of that time and study up. There is a reason why they gave you the music early. They want you to be ready. Improvisational skills can come in very handy in these situations.

    Come Prepared

    You shouldn’t expect a studio to have a kit that will sound right for the required style of music. This is why you need to bring extra snares, cymbals and sticks. Do your homework and find out what is available at the studio where you will be recording. This will make you look more professional. You can rest assured of having the proper tools on hand to complete the job.

    Communication Skills

    You might be the best musician in the world. However, if you have a poor attitude or can’t communicate a musical idea, you won’t find yourself getting hired.

    As with most careers, networking is important, and being a session musician is no different. Keep up with your business connections and make sure that you work well together. This will keep the jobs coming.

    It is important to remember that a studio musician’s job is to bring someone else’s vision to life. This doesn’t mean creativity isn’t important. However, there is a limit to your creative output.

    After all, it is the producer who always has the final word on the recording. This means you should expect criticism at times. This is one area where the truly professional session musician stands out because they can handle criticism like a pro.

    You have to remind yourself that this criticism isn’t personal. The producer has something specific in mind they are trying to create.

    No matter what is said, it is important to have thick skin and keep your cool. Musicians who can’t set aside their ego damage their chances at success. Instead, take any criticism constructively and try something new. This not only shows the producer you can co-create, but it increases your chances of landing future gigs.

    Learn the Industry

    It can take more than being a good musician to succeed as a session player. Just because you are a performer doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn about the record-making process and the business side of the music industry. Having a working knowledge of production terms enables you to communicate better with the engineers. Knowing how to talk with the guys on the technical side will help you stand out as a player.

    Also, if you understand the business of the music industry, you will usually be treated like the professional you are trying to be. Always get a contract signed before starting on any project. This will enable you to keep your rights and legally entitles you to any profits made from the recording session. Unless you agree to something different, always have an agreement in place for royalties before recording your part.

    Thinking About Becoming a Session Drummer?

    Being a session drummer can be a highly lucrative and fun way to make music for a living. You will often be changing styles and genres, sometimes even in the middle of a session. With a little hard work and a great attitude, it is possible to have a fulfilling career in music.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Snare Drums

    There are many ways to set up your snare drum. You can have a warm wooden sound as a result of using birch to build a set. Alternatively, you can attain a higher pitch and metallic timbre from an all-metal snare drum. There are the sharp, staccato bursts that come from a piccolo snare. Then, there is the machine gun explosion of a rim shot performed on a Yamaha Free Floating marching snare.

    No matter the type of sound you are seeking, you will find it at Drum Center of Portsmouth. The following are the three different snare drum types and their sounds in the DCP collection. This guide will break down each type to help you choose a snare for your set.

    Marching Snare

    This is the type of snare drum that marching bands use. These drums can endure higher tensions and produce a deeper sound than orchestral or kit snares. The newest models feature free-floating devices. These allow you to attach the rim to the opposite rim. The result is a drum tightened to the highest possible level.

    This is important due to most snare heads being made of Kevlar now. These will endure no matter how heavy you play. They will last through changes in temperature and humidity. The marching snare is the biggest of the snare drums available.

    There are also similar drums like a pipe band snare or a field drum. A pipe band is similar to a traditional marching band snare. However, it has an extra snare added to the head. This gives it a crisper sound. Mostly these drums are useful for marching bands. On occasion, set drummers will use one to create a sound effect like a gunshot going off.

    Kit Snare

    Most musicians grew up with a traditional wooden shell drum. This probably had a head over one end with a snare held tight. The sound produced would have been a high-pitched rasping sound. This is the distinct drum sound we all grew up hearing in most traditional music.

    There are many different types of wood that make the drum heads.

    • Maple - The most common is maple. Maple produces the typical kit snare sound. Birch presents a much brighter sound.
    • Mahogany - This is the most vintage wood used for making kits. Beech and poplar are both softer woods. These give a warmer sound. They are similar to birch but not quite as powerful.
    • Oak - Lastly, there is oak. Oak is the loudest of drum materials. It can last on the negative register the longest. This means it takes a bit longer for those deep bass sounds to wear away.

    There are many ways to change up the sound. However, the biggest difference comes from the metal on the body. Metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and bronze offer different sounds.

    Aluminum is the closest to the traditional wooden snare sound.

    Brass creates a bright cracking sound with mellow overtones in the follow-up tones.

    Copper bodies offer a warmer but darker tone. It also is cleaner than copper sounding snares.

    Finally, there is steel. This is the material of choice for drummers in rock bands. Some say steel produces the ugliest of all the snare sounds. However, that’s what makes it perfect for rock and heavy metal music.

    Piccolo and Popcorn/Soprano Snares

    Piccolo snares are smaller than a traditional snare due to their shell being much shallower. Most piccolo snares act as an accessory for kit applications. The depth of most piccolo snares isn’t much deeper than 4” to 4.5”. The small shell size tends to bring about a higher pitch and a faster response than a traditional 5” drum. This leads to a sound with less body and bass.

    Soprano/popcorn snares are similar than the piccolo snare. They feature non-standard shell dimensions. The typical soprano snare runs between 5” to 7” deep with a diameter of around 10” to 12”. These drums generally have a high pitched sound with slightly more body to the sound than what a piccolo could make. Usually, the snares come in the shallowest sizes.

    Different Snares for Different Needs

    Ultimately the snares that you choose to purchase will depend on the specific sound that you desire out of your kit. You might also just need it to replace a drum you already use. There isn’t one drum sound that will work for every application. That’s why it is important to look at all drum types before settling on the one you think will best suit your needs.

    Rock drummers may be looking for a steel snare to provide a dirty muddled thunderclap sound. Jazz drummers may want the bright warmth of a wooden drum or a piccolo snare. This is why it is so important to try out the drums you have an interest in. Even one drum sound can change the way you sound as a whole.

    Style Impacts Sound

    It also helps to know the style of drumming you wish to play. This will help you decide upon the type of drum set to settle on. Gretsch and Slingerland are historically great drums for a jazz setting. Premier and Pearl make excellent marching band drums. The options available are truly staggering. It is easy to see why so many different drums need looking after.

    Which to Choose?

    Deciding upon a snare drum is a task that can be extremely difficult. There are many different ways to convey the same style of note. The entire process can make it hard to differentiate between the top picks.

    However, it is safe to say you know a good sound when you hear it. The previous sounds described are among the many available to choose from. Picking a sound and making it into a signature sound is one of the ways that the team at DCP can help you out when looking at new snare drums.

  • The Great Gretsch Drums Shootout

    USA Custom vs. Brooklyn vs. Broadkaster

    Most drummers have heard of “That Great Gretsch Sound”.  Gretsch drums have been producing the most sought after tones for over 135 years.  When many of us think of the classic Gretsch sound, we immediately think of the Gretsch USA Custom line.  However, Gretsch has 2 other high-end offerings that are also handmade in their Ridgeland, SC factory.

    Once again, we’ve put together the most comprehensive shootout video on the internet to help you decide which Gretsch kit is perfect for you!

    Part One: Downbeat Configuration - 12/14/20/14x5.5

     

    Part Two: Bop Kits - 12/14/18/14x5.5

     

    Part Three: Rock Configuration - 12/16/22/14x6.5

     

    Part Four: BIG Rock Configuration - 13/16/24/14x6.5

     

    Gretsch Broadkaster

    From the 1920s through the 1950s, Gretsch flagship drum set was the legendary Broadkaster Series. The thin, three-ply shell produced that original "Great Gretsch Sound". Drum Center of Portsmouth was influential in the prototyping of the Gretsch Broadkaster, when we visited the folks at Gretsch and discussed the possibility of a relaunch of the classic line.

    These new classic Broadkaster shells are made with a North American maple/poplar/maple formula. Each 6.7mm shell includes an interior-ply scarf joint that adds structural integrity to the thin, musical shells. Like all USA-made Gretsch drums, shell interiors are finished with classic Gretsch Silver Sealer. The bearing edges are an exclusive reverse roundover, which allows greater surface contact with the drumhead. Toms are outfitted with Gretsch's "302" 3.0mm, double flanged steel hoops. The result is tone that is incredibly deep and warm, or "That Great Gretsch Sound."

    Gretsch Brooklyn

    Gretsch Brooklyn Series drums are proudly hand-crafted in their Ridgeland, SC, USA factory. This 4-piece shell pack produces a tone that is immediately recognizable, yet distinctively reinvented.

    Brooklyn drums feature 6-ply North American maple/poplar shells and are slightly thicker than Gretsch's USA Custom Drums and have a 30-degree bearing edge. The inside of these shells are finished with Gretsch Silver Sealer. Each shell comes with a distinctive Brooklyn internal shell label that identifies the drum shell model number and serial number. The toms feature classic 3mm, double flanged Gretsch "302" hoops. Brooklyn delivers classic Gretsch tones that are full, punchy and warm, yet slightly more open and satisfyingly ambient. If the USA Custom line isn't quite your cup of tea, give the Brooklyn Series a shot.

    Gretsch USA Custom

    For over 65 years, Gretsch USA Custom Round Badge drums have been the classic American drum sound. At the heart of "That Great Gretsch Sound" is the legendary 6-ply maple/gum shell with its expertly formed 30-degree bearing edge, the exclusive "Silver Sealer" interior finish and rugged die cast hoops. These custom drums are handmade in Ridgeland, South Carolina using the highest quality traditional finishing techniques. You simply won't find a higher quality drum than a Gretsch USA Custom.

    The Verdict

    “That Great Gretsch Sound” is inherent in all 3 USA-made offerings.  The differences in sound are subtle across each line despite pretty big differences in shell composition.  “That” sound is a woody, shell heavy and articulate tone that makes itself known and gets right out of the way.  These drums are incredibly musical and sit perfectly in any mix. It’s these qualities that make Gretsch drums so desirable in a studio recording environment, as well small coffee houses and the big stage.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is your home for Gretsch Drums

    Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we know that great Gretsch sound. Many of us own at least one Gretsch kit, and can help you identify the drum set that is perfect for YOUR needs.  Give us a call at (603)319-8109 today to find the USA Gretsch Drums of your dreams!

  • A Guide to Getting Drum Solo-Ready, Fast

     

    There’s nothing quite like stealing the show with an epic drum solo!

    Drum solos are a fun way to practice your skills and hone your abilities no matter how long you’ve been drumming.

    Drums are often the underdogs of music, carrying the show without much solo-time. For this reason, solos can seem intimidating to some musicians. But if you’re ready to embrace the power of the drums, there are a few steps you can take to make your solo seem a lot less daunting.

    So, sit high on your throne and get ready to start with a BANG—we’ve compiled our top tips for getting drum solo-ready fast.

    Start with a BANG—Owning the Right Equipment

    Starting with the right equipment is key to delivering an epic drum solo. Below we’ve outlined some of the must-have pieces in your kit for maximum punch.

     

    • A snare drum: The snare is essential to the main beat of your solo. Its sharp staccato sound will help you keep the main tempo while allowing for some creative freedom.
    • Bass drum/kick drum: Your bass drum, or kick drum, will serve as the heartbeat of your solo. It can keep you on track and prevent you from getting lost in the rhythm.
    • Toms: You’ll need one or more toms to mix in deeper beats.
    • Hi-Hat: High-hats are essential to any drum kit, as they can produce a dynamic range of sounds. They can be played softly for the gentle “chick” sound, or they can be played loudly for a heavy metal effect.
    • Cymbals: In addition to a hi-hat, you may want to add a few other cymbals to your drum kit, including a crash, ride, or a crash/ride.

     

    In addition to the proper hardware, you’ll also want a comfortable throne that is the right size for your height.

    With the right equipment, you will feel more confident, and in turn, more comfortable with the drums. This is essential if you want to nail your solo and become a true percussionist.

    Start Slow

    One of the most common rookie mistakes that drummers make is starting too fast. While it may be tempting to pound the drums with your fastest stick work, starting too strong can quickly cause you to lose time with the music and to get lost in your solo.

    When many people think of a drum solo, they think of incredibly fast and loud drumming—but that’s not all that makes an epic composition. In fact, silence and tension are extremely powerful tools that expert musicians use to make their solos more interesting.

    The best way to get solo-ready fast is to start slow and really make sure you’re in time with the tempo of the music. From there, you can work in rests and accents to make your composition more dynamic. If you start too quickly, you won’t be able to build up tension—one of the most important aspects of a great solo performance.

    Determine What Subdivision You Want to Use

    The next step to nailing a drum solo is determining the subdivision, aka finding the groove of the song.

    Most jazz/blues/shuffle songs can be subdivided by 3s (triplets), while rock, pop, and funk songs can be subdivided by 2s and 4s.

    Play the subdivisions on the snare to keep time with the song and maintain a steady pulse throughout your solo. Keep in mind, that up until this point, the drums have determined the rhythmic base for the song, so once the other instruments drop out, it is important you maintain that same structure so that the audience can follow along seamlessly.

    Add Accents

    Once you’ve established the main rhythm with your bass and snare, it’s time to work in some accents with your hi-hat, cymbals, and toms. These accents can be cycled and varied to create interesting patterns.

    The toms can provide a nice deep beat, while cymbal and high hats can offer the occasion—and satisfying—crash.  

    Create Tension with Volume and Rests

    The most common misconception about drum solos is that they have to be loud and fast the whole time. This could not be farther from the case.

    Changing the volume and adding rests make the rhythmic beats more interesting and creates tension.

    Think about how you can use silence to build to a climax with increasing drumming speed and volume that builds to a loud crash. Starting from silence and smoothly playing a roll are common techniques in drum solos. Skipping a beat and adding a rest in time with the music can also make it more dynamic and fun.

    Avoid Getting Lost in a Drum Solo

    While you want to be loose and creative with your drum solo, it’s easy to accidentally get lost in the music. Even experienced musicians can struggle with this.

    To prevent getting lost in your solo, have a certain place that you know you can always go back to. For example, maybe start by playing a bar in time with the main rhythm and then 2 bars of improv.

    Don’t Get Too Technical

    While you don’t want to get lost in the music, you don’t want to get too technical either. Letting the music flow and finding your rhythm is one of the most important parts of unleashing a killer drum solo. Get creative with it and enjoy a little improv without being overly technical.

    End with a BANG!

    While there are many ways to end a drum solo, our favorite way is with a BANG. Towards the end of your solo, make sure you’re back in time with the music and end with a classic bang.

    This can also be a good cue for the rest of your band members to jump back in and continue the rest of the song in regular time.

    Practice Makes Perfect

    Last but not least, the old saying rings true as a cymbal—practice really does make perfect. If you’re interested in performing a drum solo, draw inspiration from some of your favorite drummers and practice alone and with your friends to find tricks and patterns that work with your style.

    Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we have the inventory you need to outfit your set for the ultimate drum solo. Not only that, but we’ve become something of a presence on the music scene because of our inventory and knowledgeable staff. Come check us out—and show us the solo you’ve been working on!

  • Get Inspired - 7 of the World's Most Admired Drummers

    Looking to channel the legendary power of the greatest rock and roll, punk, and jazz musicians? Look no further! We’ve listed some of our favorite drummers of all time below.  

    Now, without further ado—drum roll please!

    1. John Bonham

    A true Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-er, John Bonham is considered by many as the greatest rock drummer that ever lived.

    Born in Redditch, UK in 1948, Bonham (also known as Bonzo), was first recognized for his insane drumming talent as the drummer in the 1970s rock band, Led Zeppelin.

    His impressive solos in songs like “When the Levees Breaks” and “Moby Dick” are still studied by musicians today and highly regarded as some of the most influential solos in modern rock history. His style is most characterized by incredibly fast bass drumming and precise rhythm. In the late 1960’s, Bonham was introduced to Ludwig drums and became a major endorser for the brand.

    Bonham was also known for his extremely charismatic personality and charming spirit. His untimely death at the age of just 32 years old came as a shock to fans, and ultimately led to the end of Led Zeppelin.

    Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bonham as the #1 best drummer in their list of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time”.

    2. Neil Peart

    Famously known as the drummer in the Canadian Rock Band, Rush, Neil Peart is one of the most influential drummers still alive today.

    Born in 1952, Peart is said to have first gained his drumming inspiration from other hard rock drummers, including Bonham and Keith Moor. Eventually, he started to incorporate jazz elements into his drumming style, even studying under famous jazz musician Freddie Gruber. During this time he began to incorporate more swing components into his music.

    In 1983 Peart became the youngest person ever inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame—one of the most prestigious honors in the field.

    Peart continued performing with Rush until his retirement in December 2015. Some of the brands Peart has favored include Tama and Ludwig.

    3. Keith Moon

    Known as the eccentric drummer in the band, The Who, Keith Moon still receives both praise and criticism from critics today.

    His style inspired the character Animal, in the Muppets—a character often seen smashing drum kits and trashing hotel rooms. His ferocity, however, translated in his drumming performance. He became famous for refusing to do drum solos and instead attempting “to play with everyone in the band at once” (John Entwistle, Rolling Stone Magazine).

    A true rock-and-roller, Moon was also known for his controversial stunts and destructive personality—which some say led to his overdose at the young age of 31. Regardless, of his personal battles, his emotional and commanding drum performance with The Who has carried on his legacy as one of the greatest drummers of all time.  

    In 1964-1965, Moon used a Ludwig drum set with Zildjian cymbals.

    4. John “Jabo” Starks

    If you’re looking for some funk and blues inspiration, John “Jabo” Starks, is your man. Known for solo work as well as his music with Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo is a stable drummer in contemporary hip-hop and R&B records.

    Together, Starks and Stubblefield became incredibly influential on hip-hop’s Golden Era. However, many still consider them incredibly underrated artists. Nevertheless, Jabo had a long and highly successful career, working with musicians like B.B. King and Bobby Bland over the years.

    5.Ginger Baker

    Known as a pioneer in genres like jazz fusion, world music, and heavy metal, Ginger Baker Is known as a “superstar drummer” with a style that dips into jazz and African rhythms.

    Born Peter Edward Baker in 1939 in South London, Graham first made his mark in the music world as the drummer for Cream, alongside legends, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. The powerful trio combined jazz training with a distinct polyrhythmic style and long drum solos.

    After the band’s breakup, Graham traveled to Nigeria to open a studio. His music continued to evolve during this time, and he is now praised for his deep understanding of African beats.

    Earning a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame, Graham carries on his legacy today with a variety of musical projects. He is also known to play with two bass drums instead of one, and purchased a new Ludwig drum kit in 1968.

    6. Dave Grohl

    From Nirvana to the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl made his mark on the 80s punk rock and grunge scene early on.

    Grohl first learned how to play the drums by practicing in the Washington D.C. suburbs, beating thick marching band snare sticks on pillows. In this manner, he became an extremely powerful drummer, and he was known for his incredibly loud and relentless sound. This sound is what attracted Nirvana front-man, Kurt Cobain.

    Grohl’s incredible drumming has been recognized as one of the leading features that helped Seattle grunge band, Nirvana, go from an independent band to multi-platinum success.

    After the death of Kurt Cobain, Grohl continued his musical career as lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the Foo Fighters. In addition, he has played drums for many other rock and roll legends, including Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Tom Pettie, Nine Inch Nails, Tenacious D, and others.

    7. Al Jackson Jr.

    Also known as the “human timekeeper”, Al Jackson Jr was famed for his incredible drumming ability and precision. Born November 27th, 1935, Al Jackson became a founding member of the Booker T. & the MG’s group working with Stax Records.

    Al Jackson Jr was influenced early on by his father, Al Jackson Sr. who led a jazz/swing band in Memphis, TN. At the age of 5, young Jackson Jr began playing the drums, even performing on stage with his father.

    Today, Jackson Jr is still highly praised as one of the most influential drummers to date. He was known to use Ludwig and Rogers drums.

    All great drummers start somewhere. Think you have what it takes to channel these legends? Get all the equipment you need by browsing our inventory here at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

  • Cymbal Drum Sets: Yay or Nay?

    A cymbal crash is essential when playing the drums for different reasons. It can mark the transition into a new section of a song, be played as an accent, or marks the end of a tune. Yes, they are necessary if you want to take your playing to the next level.

    With this being said, is a cymbal drum set a good investment in getting your drumming career off to a good start?

    We all want the most value for our money, so what’s the best set out on the market? There isn’t a definitive answer since every drummer has a budget and plays unique music – at the end of the day, your ears will be the deciding factor! Your cymbal set needs to suit your musical tastes and fit with the rest of your drum set. But here are a few things to consider when browsing through potential cymbal box sets.

    The Biggest Benefit Of Cymbals

    Cymbals are an important part of a drum set. Buying as a set instead of individually is the will save you a large sum of money rather as opposed to buying everything separately.  

    For example, our specially-designed, and exclusive Zildjian A Sweet Cymbal Pack has a retail value of $2,200, but are available for $799.95, ultimately saving you over $1400. In this set you will get the following:

    • 15” New Beats
    • 18” & 20” Thin Crashes
    • 23” Zildjian Sweet Ride Cymbal

    Aside from the price value of a set, there are other reasons cymbal drum sets are a must-have. The problem you may run into when looking for a set is that there’s an overwhelming number of models to choose from.

    Which ones should you start off with? Keep these key elements in mind to help you decide:

    Material

    You want the most value for your money which is why you need to consider quality, more specifically, the material it’s made from. Most commonly made of bronze, cymbals may also be made from brass which results as being cheaper in price. You can, however, expect all cymbals to be made up of some bronze – a combination of copper and tin.

    There are two types of bronze used for cymbals: B20 and B8. With this being said you have the following three options when it comes down to your set:

    • Brass – used for entry-level models
    • B20 – 80% copper and 20% tin
    • B8 – 92% copper and 8% tin

    Bronze comprises most cymbal alloys making it a good material to start off with. The less tin a cymbal has the more focused it will sound offering higher frequencies. A good rule of thumb is that the higher the tin to copper ratio, the pricier it will be. If you have questions about the best material for you, learn more about the types of cymbals!

    Types of Cymbals

    When it comes down to types of cymbals you need to consider 4 categories: hi-hat, crash, effect, and ride. You’ll notice that each has a specific role to fulfill in a modern drum set.

    Crashes

    typically range in sizes 14” to 18” and there is a 16” which is a good size for beginners. The sounds that crashes offer is explosive however not very long in duration. Keep in mind that the thicker the cymbal is the higher the pitch will be. Opposite to ride cymbals which hold down a steady rhythm, drummers use crashes to create defined and loud accents. You can play this type with your sticks, hands, or mallets.

    Ride cymbals

    range from 18” to as much as 26”. For beginners, consider a 20” or 22” as they will make a good starting point. Rides give short, distinct ping like sounds to ride sticking patterns like standard jazz patterns or eighth notes. Holding down that steady style for drummers, a ride cymbal is placed on the right side of the drummer assuming they’re right-handed.

    Hi-hats

    are usually sold in pairs in conjunction with bass and snare drums. The bottom cymbal is just a bit thicker than the top one. The same rule we mentioned earlier about the thickness of cymbals applies here. The lower pitch will come from the thinner one. Sizes range from 12” to 14”. Hi-hats are operated by a pedal that opens and closes them.

    Effect cymbals

    are a great addition to add to your set, however, they are a little on the pricier side. There are a few kinds of effect cymbals among them being Splash and China that can really add a distinct signature sound to your playing.

    • The smaller accent cymbal is known as splashes and range in between 6” to 13”. You will find a wide variety of splashes such as the salsa splash or bell splash.
    • Next are the china cymbals which resemble Chinese gongs. They typical china bell is cone-shaped and are thin. They usually range between 12” to 26” in diameter. The sound of a china bell is often described as explosive and dark.

    Effect cymbals are used in non-rhythmic ways to bring forward a burst of accents. These are essential to your drum kit allowing you to create your own special playing style.

    Conclusion

    If you want to start off your drumming career on the right foot, we suggest you look into cymbals. You don’t have to spend a fortune especially if you’re a beginner on a tight budget. Browse through our discounted options to find something that works for you! Always remember the difference between each type – they will change your sound!

    As always, we are here if you have any questions & are dedicated to helping you find the right set for you. Our 100% satisfaction guarantee combined with our return policy allows our customers to shop with confidence. Best of luck and happy playing!

  • Neil Peart’s Most Famous Drum Fills

     

    Drum fills are one of the first tricks drummers want to learn when getting their first drum set. No matter the style of music that you’re into – rock, jazz, metal, funk – you can use a fill to increase the playing experience for yourself, your band, and your audience.

    These short passages full the transition between parts of a song. Drummers will use them when they want to let the band and listener know a change is coming. Not only does it make the playing experience more enjoyable for everyone in the band, but it helps listeners anticipate the next section of a great tune.

    So, how long should a drum fill be? This all depends on your preference. We wanted to explore drills brought forward by the legend himself Neil Peart to give you a better understanding of what they should sound like and how you can incorporate them into your playing.

    If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to listen to the following fills by Neil E. Peart! Now a retired musician, Peart is remembered for his epic rock career as the primary lyricist for the rock band Rush.

    Here are some iconic fills to enjoy and revisit:

    1. “Tom Sawyer”

    The percussion solo in this song should be mandatory listening for drummers of all ages and skill levels. There are two fills within this piece the first one being trickier than it seems. The second is the famous quadruplet with triplet fill. If you want to go straight to the drum fill fast forward to 2:35 in this tune.

    2. “The Enemy Within”

    If you listen closely, he is playing a lot more notes than it may seem during his drum fill within this song. It’s a bit deceptive but it just shows how you can create an illusion for your audience that gets them hyped.

    3. “Between the Wheels”

    The fill in this song is found at the end of the solo section and makes a great example of how Peart used precision and control. It’s a great one to practice and we’re sure you’ll have a lot of fun trying to get it down. If you don’t get it, remember it’s a challenge even for experts.

    4. “Free Will”

    The fill in this tune comes before the second chorus. You can really hear the control and strong feel incorporated into it. Notice how Peart takes the hi-hat to the ride cymbal. There are so many great fills in this song making it hands down one of his best!

    5. “Limelight”

    The fill that brings this song to an end is considered a masterpiece not only by us but many listeners. Peart combines all his best elements up to date with this breathtaking fill. If you haven’t heard it, prepare for it to be etched in your mind forever!

    6. “YYZ”

    There are a few fills in this tune, one of them beginning in the solo section. This is a 4-stroke riff, however, it’s a bit difficult to get the right feel for it even if you understand how to play it. Peart does an amazing job landing an “off” beat. You’ll notice in his other song, “The Digital Man” he shares many of the elements found in his “YYZ” fill.

    These are all great drum fills brought forward by the legend himself. Other great tunes by him that you should listen to in your free time include “Leave That Thing Alone”, “Vital Signs”, and “The Spirit of Radio”.

    How To Create A Drum Fill?

    Excited about learning how to play a drum fill? With practice and dedication, you’ll get to the level you wish to reach. Always trust a few steps.

    1. Start with a Rudiment

    You want to begin with a rudiment which is fundamental in percussion music. Familiarize yourself with the stick pattern on the snare drum. After you’ve mastered it try playing this same rudiment on different drums.

    2. Practice with a Pad Set

    While you can play a fill on one drum, things get more interesting when they are played on multiple drums and cymbals. Consider purchasing a practice pad set to work on your drum fills. This helps you get comfortable with the movement and practice drum fills repeatedly without damaging your hearing.

    3. Don’t Expect Great Results Right Away

    Just like anything else you’re trying to learn, begin slowly. Get all the fundamentals and basics down before going into a more difficult drum fill (like Neil Peart’s). You want to practice every day – even if it’s just for a little while – to see the best results.

    When To Use a Drum Fill?

    There are times when a fill is appropriate. For instance, you must treat them as ad-libs since they can be played at just about any time during a tune. They contribute to songs when you’re switching from one structural element to the next. For example, just before a chorus begins you can use a loud rumble on the toms to tie both sections together.

    Other great times to use a drum fill include:

    • When you’re playing a drum beat and want to break up the pace.
    • At the end of a bar or as a transition between versus and choruses.
    • Use a drum fill when changing time signatures halfway through a song.

    To play to the best of your ability you need to learn how to successfully leave a beat and then come back to that same beat again. These ad lib characters of fills relate to both the position and contents of the tune.

    Wrap Up

    Learning how to play successful drum fills is essential to your playing abilities. If you need help creating unique patterns, consider getting a drum fill system. This is a step-by-step program that will teach your fills through many different music genres including jazz, rock, or metal. You’ll eventually grow out of the repetitive rudiments and be on your way to creating stunning fills.

  • Coated Drum Heads VS Clear Drum Heads – Which is Best?

     

    Heads and tuning are everything when it comes down to drums. Picking the right one for your drum set makes the differences between an instrument that plays amazing tunes and one that just makes an obnoxious amount of sound.

    Because your choice in drumheads is as important as your choice of drum kit, you want to pay extra attention before coming to a buying decision. The quality of heads can make or break the sound you’re going for. You can completely transform you’re playing options with the right models involved.

    You probably already know the selection for drumheads is very extensive. There are so many options – coated, clear, single, double ply, thin and thick. In this guide, we will cover a question that many beginning drummers struggle with: What is the best drumhead for you?

    Elements To Consider

    Before we jump into the types of heads let’s touch base on a few things you need to look for. Before you decide on a model you want to keep in mind brand, thickness, and budget.

    • Brands – When it comes down to the manufacturer of your drumkit you want to go with a highly respected brand especially if you’re an experienced drummer. Two major manufactures are Evans and Remo.

     

    • Thickness – Why is this important? It’s all about simple physics. The thickness of a head contributes greatly to the tone. Thicker heads are also more durable, louder, less sensitive, and offer more attack. Thinner options will be less durable, quieter, more sensitive, and offer less attack.

     

    • Budget – Pricing from these models range to fit any budget. If you’re just beginning in the world of drums you may have a tighter budget than more experienced players. Keep price in mind when shopping. This will help narrow down your shopping selection. We assure you’ll be able to find a quality model at a good cost.

    Having these elements in mind will help you narrow down your buying decision to the best model for you and your playing style. But you’ll still need to know a little more about the types of drumheads that are available.

    Types Of Drumheads

    Essentially there are 4 different types of drumheads you need to be aware of – single ply, double, ply, coated and clear ones. Then, of course, you have your specialty options which offer distinct tones and feels. At the end of the day finding the right drumhead for you is a matter of personal taste.

    We hope this guide helps you decide and narrow down your shopping selection. Let’s touch on your different options:

    Single Ply

    The first drumhead we will touch base on is single ply options. They are the most basic and usually the thinnest type out there. They are made from a single layer of 10 mil Mylar, but you can find other thicknesses within this category like 3-mil snare side heads or 6-mil specialty tom heads. The 10 mil is most widely used among drummers.

    Here are a few reasons you should go for single ply:

     

    • They will resonate better
    • Single plies are bright and help bring out overtones of a drum
    • Perfect for lighter styles of music like jazz

     

    The only downfall you may come across with this option is their durability. Single ply drumheads don’t last as long in rock settings. Even then, many players like the sound of a single ply on their drum set.

    Double Ply

    Next up are double ply drumheads which are more durable than single ply options. This option offers more attack, shorter sustains, and reduces overtones. They are great options for rock and similar styles where articulation and longevity are a must. The most basic double ply heads are made from two plies of 7-mil Mylar.

    Coated and Clear Heads

    Now we have gotten down to the debate of this post: which is best? Both coated and clear drumheads have their advantages and downfalls.

    Coated drumheads can be sprayed with different types of clothing. For instance, some are sprayed with a translucent coating while others are coated a solid white or black. Others are etched to create a more textured surface. Why the difference in coating? It’s simple – the more mass that’s added to something the more it will vibrate creating a dampening effect.

    Non-coated drumheads won’t offer this same effect. Instead, they will produce brighter sounds with control and more attack. You’ll notice that even when tuned to the same pitch, coated heads will offer a warmer tone than a non-coated option.

    Here are a few other ways that they differ:

     

    • Coated drumheads tend to muffle the sound a little bit while clear options offer brighter, more open sounds.
    • Coated options are great options for snare drums and a must if you play with brushes. You won’t be able to achieve that sandpaper sound with a clear snare head.
    • Coated tom heads make drums warmer than clear tom heads. However, clear models will offer more attack.

     

    Which one is best for you comes down to personal taste, but it’s always a good idea to be informed of your options before buying. At the end of the day you don’t want to be stuck with a drumhead you don’t like.

    Coated vs Clear? Up To You!

    If you are a heavy hitter consider a double ply drumhead for more durability. If you are lighter with touch than you’ll get plenty of years out of a single ply model. Now, if you’re a drummer that is looking for an open and bright sound consider a clear single ply head. If you want the complete opposite then a double ply option is your best bet.

    Coated vs Clear is always going to be debated, but the best choice really depends on each individual player. If you still don’t know which will be best for you, it’s best to get in your local store and test out your options. You’re already doing what you’re supposed to by researching, now try out a few choices for yourself!

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